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Alexandra Popp: How Germany striker is finally experiencing her Women's Euros redemption after injury disappointment

Alexandra Popp is featuring at her first Euros after injuries in 2013 and 2017; she became the first woman to score in three consecutive group games, along with England's Beth Mead; Popp scored in a fourth successive game in Germany's 2-0 quarter-final win against Austria

Germany's Alexandra Popp celebrates after scoring her side's second goal during the Women Euro 2022 quarter final soccer match between Germany and Austria at Brentford Community Stadium in London, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Alexandra Popp is one of the most recognisable faces in international women’s football. A prolific striker and captain for Germany, she has a number of accolades and achievements to her name.

But surprisingly, Euro 2022 marks the first time Popp has featured at a European Championships, having missed the 2013 and 2017 editions through injury. In between the two, she helped Germany to Olympic gold at Rio 2016.

Sky in Germany's Lisa de Ruiter explained: "Popp had a torn ligament in 2013 and decided to play the Champions League final back then. She missed the European Championship because of the injury.

"Although she won the triple with Wolfsburg, she missed the title with the national team.

"In 2017 she was injured again, this time on the meniscus and the lateral ligament. It was a heavy blow for her and the team."

It was so much a blow for Germany that in 2017, their stranglehold on the European Championships was broken. They had won each of the previous six Euros - adding to their two previous titles - as the DFB's pioneering support for women's football shone through.

However, without the then-vital Popp in the side, they were knocked out in the quarter-final stage for the first time. Hosts the Netherlands went on to win the title in 2017 under now-England head coach Sarina Wiegman.

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When asked if she had considered what could have been in previous years, Popp told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle: "Not now, to be honest. At the time, I did of course. In 2013, we became European champions, so maybe I would have had that on my CV already. That would have been nice.

Alexandra Popp won Olympic gold with Germany at Rio 2016
Image: Alexandra Popp won Olympic gold with Germany at Rio 2016

"It's no use thinking about it for years, dwelling on it, so to speak. I have to accept things as they are. I have also met it head on with a fighting spirit by standing right here and being able to play in this European Championship. I'm very proud of this at the moment."

Popp and Germany would have been forgiven for have some hesitancy leading into this year's competition - could lightning really strike a third time? It was touch and go again for the striker.

"It looked like this tournament was going to look bad for Popp as well," de Ruiter said. "She was injured until the beginning of the year, she had Covid at the training camp in June.

"But she got fit in time and started the tournament perfectly with three goals in three games.

Alexandra Popp has told Sky in Germany that the feeling in the Germany camp is better than when they won Olympic gold
Image: Alexandra Popp has told Sky in Germany the feeling in the Germany camp is better than when they won Olympic gold

"Popp is very important to the team. Not just on the pitch, but also off the pitch. She can help the young players enormously with her experience.

"She is a powerful woman who sets the mood and is a real team player. She is a special personality and therefore one of the best-known and most successful players in Germany.

"Everyone knows and likes 'Poppi' - that's her nickname in Germany."

As de Ruiter says, Popp finally made her long-awaited tournament debut against Denmark on July 8, coming on as a 61st-minute substitute and scoring shortly after. She nodded home from a pinpoint Sydney Lohmann cross to open her Euros account.

Image: There were emotional scenes when Alexandra Popp scored her first Euros goal against Denmark

Her celebration was one of true relief at reaching a target that had evaded her for so long. It had taken her nine years to do so, which is incredible for a player of her calibre.

De Ruiter revealed: "Popp told me that coming on against Denmark and scoring the goal was the most emotional moment for her. Her first appearance at a European Championship after all the injuries and then she comes in and scores.

"She had tears in her eyes as she cheered. Goosebumps!"

The Euros suit her too. She scored in each of the group stage matches, starting the last two and wearing the captain's armband. In doing so, Popp became the first female player to score in three successive Euro group games, along with England's Beth Mead.

Alexandra Popp kept up her record of scoring in every game at Euro 2022 so far with Germany's late second - and her 57th international goal
Image: Alexandra Popp kept up her record of scoring in every game at Euro 2022 so far with Germany's late second - and her 57th international goal

She then added another against Austria in a 2-0 quarter-final victory at Brentford. Popp had been pulling the strings throughout, and Manuela Zinsberger had just about evaded the striker's press.

But a poor goal kick saw the ball hit a lurking Popp before hammering into the back of the net, seeing the 31-year-old become only the second player after Heidi Mohr to score in four consecutive appearances at a Women's Euros.

Although there is still the smaller matter of a semi-final to navigate - facing France on Wednesday at the Stadium MK - Germany already look like they have one foot at Wembley after storming through the group stages.

Alexandra Popp scored her third goal in as many games at Euro 2022 with Germany's second in a 3-0 win over Finland
Image: Alexandra Popp scored her third goal in as many games at Euro 2022 with Germany's second in a 3-0 win over Finland

They showed different qualities in the three group games, all which have been impressive. Against Spain, they were clinical when they had their chances despite seeing far less possession. In their tournament opener against Denmark, their pressing game was near perfect and saw them overwhelm their opponents.

While Austria were masters of their own downfall in the quarter-final, Germany combined their ruthlessness - Lina Magull scored with the side's first shot - and their press from Popp to secure their spot in the final four.

The striker has been the spearhead of the attack and although she has finally made her mark at the Euros, there is one final piece of the puzzle that would complete her redemption - Germany's ninth European title at Wembley on July 31.

"It is definitely a relief for her to finally be able to play a European Championship," de Ruiter added.

Image: Sky in Germany's Lisa de Ruiter says lifting the Euros trophy will be the perfect way to round off the competition for Alexandra Popp

"Popp told me that the atmosphere in the team is even better than at the Olympics when Germany won the gold medal. She believes in the title and the team wants to give everything to reach the goal.

"It might be Popp's last chance at the title. Popp is now 31 and will do anything to win the title in England. Then she would have made perfect peace with the tournament."

It is a sentiment echoed by the striker, who when asked about her plans for July 31 told Deutsche Welle: "How about raising the trophy in the air? That sounds like a good plan."

The knock-out phase...


Wednesday July 20

Quarter-final 1: England 2-1 Spain AET

Thursday July 21

Quarter-final 2: Germany 2-0 Austria

Friday July 22

Quarter-final 3: Sweden 1-0 Belgium

Saturday July 23

Quarter-final 4: France 1-0 Netherlands (AET)


Tuesday July 26

Semi-final 1: England vs Sweden - kick-off 8pm, Bramall Lane

Wednesday July 27

Semi-final 2: Germany vs France - kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK


Sunday July 31

Winners semi-final 1 v Winners semi-final 2 - kick-off 5pm, Wembley

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